A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs... See full summary »
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A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs, reveries of his life and times before his incarceration lead him to re-evaluate his privileged status as the Governor's prize runner. Written by
The British heavy metal group Iron Maiden adapted the story into a song entitled "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner". The song is featured on the album "Somewhere in Time" (1986) See more »
When the boys are doing gardening work one character calls another "you mug" (meaning gullible idiot). This is incorrectly recorded in the subtitles as "you muppet" but the word "muppet" - meaning an idiot - was not in use when the film was made. See more »
Running was always a big thing in our family, specially running away from the police. It's hard to understand. All I know is that you've got to run, running without knowing why, through fields and woods. And the winning post's no end, even though the barmy crowds might be cheering themselves daft. That's what the loneliness of a long distance runner feels like.
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Not as relevant as it was but still interesting, well acted and has memorable moments
After getting caught robbing a bakery, Colin Smith is sent to Ruxton Towers reformatory as punishment. Working out the system quite quickly, Colin sets out to divert attention from himself, ingratiate himself with the Governor and thus have a better chance of getting an easy ride and being let out early. His background in distance running (and speed at running from the scene of his crimes) bring him to the fore in the athletics competitions and it is not long before Colin is allowed out alone to train. During his long runs Colin has time to think back over his life outside, the fun, the family upbringing and the crimes that landed him inside.
Although it has dated and is not as relevant anymore, this is still an interesting film that looks at the trap of being born into a working class family with limited opportunities and a bleak future ahead of you. The film uses flashbacks well to judge the system without being too obvious the family background, the small hopes and dreams, the lack of inspiration etc; they all lead Colin into a petty life of crime. The structure works well to keep both threads (in and out) moving ahead well and it is interesting enough. The film also (in my opinion) is pretty fair by showing how those at the bottom of the ladder also must blame themselves for failing to take the chances offered to them as shown by Colin's possible athletics career. This is a fair comment and helps to prevent this becoming just a rant in defence of the downtrodden classes.
Watching it today sees it lose a lot of its relevance because the class distinction is less evident now that it was then and Colin would be a lot less likable if we were a modern day Chav with a "f*** you" attitude and no education at least here we are able to feel for him a bit. As it is Courtenay (now Sir Courtenay) plays it very well Colin is a human, someone we like but also someone trapped in a situation that is partly his own making. Redgrave plays the upperclass Governor very well and we at once are for him and against him, feeling sorry for his failing attempts to help. Support is pretty realistic (well I assume anyway) for the period and Bolam is a surprise find in a young role.
Overall this is still a good film but, as with anything set in a very realistic setting, it is not as relevant today as it was then. It is still interesting though and has things to say that still generally apply today even if class is less of an issue (now money has less to do with class than it did then). The acting is good, the direction is very down to earth and realistic and the film is still well worth seeing (with that very memorable conclusion to the race being a very memorable moment).
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